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Artist Shop Spotlight: Rachel Ryle

As artist Rachel Ryle says, “Good things come to those who make.” Truer words couldn’t be spoken by the self-made talent; apprehensive about her quirky aesthetic for many years, she finally put trust in her creativity and stepped out as an independent artist. Two years in, she’s been named the #1 Instagram feed to follow by both MTV and Buzzfeed, due much to her charming animations and now beloved “Ryle Style”. Expanding her talents even further, she’s now opened her very own Threadless Artist Shop, where she sells wall art inspired by her travels. Read on to learn more about Rachel, her mission to spread joy, and how a two hour project changed her life forever.

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Meet Rachel!

Hi, Rachel! Welcome to Artist Shops. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m an illustrator & animator with a love for storytelling. I’m about 5’9″ (in a pair of 2½” heels), and I do all my ironing in the dryer.

Art is such a big part of your life! How did that come to be?

I’ve always been a doodler, maker, and crafter. I have no formal training in illustration or animation, but I was raised to be an artist. My parents, both wildly creative and artistic, have been my lifelong cheerleaders—they continue to encourage me to create. Two years ago I decided to trust my creativity, and turn art and animating into my full time career.

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“New York” by Rachel Ryle

Your aesthetic is charming, whimsical, playful, and colorful. Have you always created in this style, or did you develop it over the years?

I suppose I’ve always drawn in this style, though for many years I looked at it as being unpolished, childish, and mediocre art. I wasn’t confident enough to call myself an artist, and brought little attention to the things that I would draw. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered that my art was in fact fun, charming, and playful. Gaining the support from my friends and followers has completely given me confidence and excitement to keep drawing in my quirky “Ryle Style”!

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“Paris” by Rachel Ryle

Your personal tagline of sorts is “Make Something & Grow”. How did you come up with this, and why does it continue to be such a strong source of inspiration?

I’ve always been a big believer in the power of making, and that good things come to those who make. So, I wanted to create a piece that would encourage my friends to make something, and to share their art with the world and watch where it could grow. With that, I made my first animation, “Make Something & Grow”. While I made this animation to be an inspiration to my friends, I now look at it as the encouragement I needed to fully trust my creativity, share my art with the world, and watch where it could grow! Little did I know that something that took me two hours to make would so quickly and dramatically change the course of my life and career.

After illustrating for years, you discovered animation in July of 2013. What was it like transitioning into this totally new creative territory?

Exciting & frustrating. Having no education in animation, it has been a creatively challenging journey in teaching myself this art form. When I first started, a simple animation would take me hours and hours and hours to create. While working a 9 to 5 job I would come home and animate from 6pm until 4am almost every night of the week. While it’s been years of a lot of hard work, the discovery of this art form has been too exciting for me to stop and I haven’t ever since!

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“Italy” by Rachel Ryle

What all is involved in the process of animating an illustration?

First of all, in developing the story, I constantly look around for inspiration. Whether it be a piñata at a friend’s birthday party, a cupcake being baked, or a morning cup of coffee. I look at everyday items and instantly start to wonder how I could make them come to life through animation. Once I have my concept, I begin the process of illustrating and animating. On average, each animation takes 15 to 20 hours from the beginning concept to final editing.

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“Iceland” by Rachel Ryle

Has this new outlet changed the way you concept and create ideas?

Absolutely! I completely view the world in a different way. I hear music and become inspired to create art around it. I see a flower and wonder how I could bring it to life through animation. I look at latte art and imagine it as an illustration. The curiosity & creativity in my head continue to grow stronger the more I allow my imagination to wander.

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“Brooklyn” by Rachel Ryle

Your Instagram account has been voted #1 to follow by both Buzzfeed and MTV (wow!). What’s your secret to both making your feed feel distinct and connecting with your audience?

My main motivation with animating is to create pieces of art that bring people joy, and inspires others to make. I believe that it’s with this approach that I continue to receive genuine support and love from my audience. The 20 hours that it takes me to create an animation is totally worth the 15 seconds of joy it brings to people around the world. To me the ultimate connection you can have through a post is to bring someone joy.

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“Vegas” by Rachel Ryle

Your Threadless Artist Shop features a series of illustrations depicting iconic cities. Why would you encourage others to creatively capture the sites they see instead of snapping the usual quick picture?

I’ve found that by taking an artistic approach to travel, you allow yourself to fully be in the moment. While capturing a photo can be memorable, it’s often over quickly and can leave you without much of a story behind the shot. By taking a moment to sit and create a piece of art reflecting your surroundings, you’re able to walk away having so much more appreciation for the moment. Instead of having a picture similar to thousands of others, you walk away with something unique and special to your experience.

What was your most favorite travel destination yet, and where would you love to go next?

That’s a tough question, each spot has a special memory in my heart. Of the places that I’ve drawn, I loved visiting Esslingen, Germany the most. The town was charming, colorful, and nestled in the hills of wine vineyards. The best part was that I spent the day there with my dear friend, Rebecca, who lives just up the autobahn! As for where I want to travel next… hmmm… I’m thinking San Francisco, Portland, Sydney, Istanbul or Amsterdam… but first up, clearly Chicago. ;)

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“Germany” by Rachel Ryle

If you could name one thing or person as the biggest inspiration in your life, what or who would it be?

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m a fangirl of Jake Nickell. He once gave a talk about the power of making, and encouraged the audience to take time to make something every day. For years those words have stuck with me and still motivate me daily to tap into my creativity. I admire that he has grown a company that encourages creativity and supports artists, like myself, to succeed!

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“London” by Rachel Ryle

Any exciting projects ahead for you?

I have some big projects in the pipeline and some fun ideas that I’m brewing up! Most importantly, I plan to travel to exciting locations to gain inspiration and expand my collection of travel illustrations!

Check out Rachel’s Artist Shop here!

Shawn Gauthier

Content Manager & Writer at Threadless. Into the usual stuff like words and music and internet animals.